The Owls Head Board of Selectmen voted Dec. 18 to seek legal advice on the town's responsibility to provide plowing services to residents of Coopers Beach Road — most notably, near property belonging to Lewis Edwards.

Chairman Tom Von Malder said he had a report that the road had not been plowed following the last snowstorm, and asked for an explanation.

"We didn't plow down to the very end, because you really can't get down there," Jake Barbour, owner of JBI, said. When asked why, Barbour said beause of the same issues they dealt with last year.

At issue is Edwards' placement of barriers at the very edge of his property that limit the space for snowplowing equipment to turn around without being damaaged.

Last April, Edwards sought the board's input to help resolve the public easement concern. He explained the barriers were there to keep the plow driver from cutting the corner and wiping out flowerbeds that abut the road.

Plowing of public easement roads is voluntary in Owls Head. The town does not have the obligation to plow, and the residents do not have to allow plowing to occur.

At that time, Edwards said he did not want to see the issue go to court, but if that was what is necessary to get what he feels should be enforced, enforced, that was what he would do.

Town plowing is done by JBI, and Barbour paid property damages to Edwards to avoid court action after the dispute last winter.

For this plowing season, the board suggested Barbour subcontract that portion of road to Donnie Blackmon, who has a smaller truck that might be able to maneuver the area in question.

Barbour said he was not willing to subcontract, stating he felt he should not have to pay somebody to do the work when the area is physically unable to be plowed.

"It [the property] doesn't meet the terms of the contract," he said.

"If I hit his posts, I'll be dealing with a lawsuit," Blackmon said, explaining that it is a very tough place to plow and Edwards has compounded the issue tenfold by placing more barriers in the area.

Planning Board member Bill Leppanen pointed out there are certain criteria residents need to meet to have public plowing services.

"The residents are in violation, not the town," he said.

"It's not just plowing that's involved," firefighter Eliot Scott said. "You can't interfere with emergency apparatus."

"He's doing this to spite the town because he wants a lawsuit," Scott added.

Leppanen said usually there is cooperation in situations like this, and said lawns used to be able to be sacrificed.

"We need clarification," he said.

Board member Linda Post recommended the board seek legal advice before moving forward with any decision on whether or not to plow Coopers Beach Road.

For now, Blackmon agreed to plow Osprey Lane, which leads to the road in question, and Barbour will plow to Blackmon's driveway at the beginning of Osprey Lane.

In March 2016, Edwards and his wife, Darlene, of Saugerties, N.Y., had joined Owls Head neighbors David and Beverly Gravison, of Sutton, Mass., in an appeal to the state high court in an effort to prevent other neighbors from having recreational access to the waterfront in front of their homes. The Gravisons and Edwardses appealed that matter to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, which rejected their claims.

The Edwardses took their claim to the U.S. Supreme Court, which, in October 2016, refused to hear the case.

In other business

Harbormaster Adam Philbrook spoke to the board regarding a federal anchorage proposed for offshore of Broad Cove. He said as a boat pilot, he knows the proposal has been made to the Coast Guard, which in turn submitted it to the district in Boston.

At issue is the placement of large ships as they relate to where fishing gear is distributed, and not much fishing is done in Broad Cove. "It's a safer spot," Philbrook said.

Von Malder said a complaint was received about residents being able to hear announcements over loudspeakers on boats that have been anchored in the cove. He further said some thought it a conflict of interest for Philbrook to be involved, as he is a proponent of the anchorage.

Philbrook said it is not within his power as harbormaster to say where they can be placed, nor where boats can anchor. "I simply help them get in safely and mitigate any gear loss," he said.

He compared it to what occurs in Bar Harbor with the cruise ships, and said he would seek input from the harbormaster there as to any complaints of noise or other issues.

Philbrook said there will be a public notice for a public forum to be held should the proposal pass.

The board approved two articles for the special town meeting scheduled for Jan. 16. One asks to approve the amendments to the Owls Head, South Thomaston, Thomaston Transfer Station's Interlocal Agreement. The other asks residents to approve the acceptance of a parcel of land in Ash Point Cemetery being given to the town.

Frank Ross was reappointed as fire chief for a term of five years.

Other positions filled were Zoning Board of Appeals, David Walker; Planning Board, Russell Wolfertz; and public health officer, Eliot Scott.

Positions still vacant include an alternate for the Planning Board and a position on the Airport Committee.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at bbirmingham@villagesoup.com.